Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Divine Right of Kings

I have long been in awe of Lincoln's arguments in the Lincoln-Douglas debates. (I think you can find them if you click on the picture of the Great Emancipator on the right to get to the Abraham Lincoln Online Archive.) They are a joy to read as he made short work of Douglas and his theory of Popular Sovereignty. (Although Douglas did win that election, Lincoln clearly won the argument.) One of the principal themes against slavery that impressed me was the link to the arbitrary "Divine Right of Kings," that is, as Lincoln put it, "You work and I'll eat the bread."

I've been thinking long and hard about that and how it may relate to our present political situation. Not being as smart as Lincoln, it has sorely taxed the electrically charged chemicals darting about my gray matter.

Then it sort of walloped me aside the head. Forget the "King" part, it's the "Divine" part that is causing us all the trouble these days. In other words, "You work, and no matter how hard you try, I still eat the bread because God favors me and not you." But then that is still pretty much the "Divine Right of Kings." The proof being that "as God blesses the righteous, I am richly blessed  (or want to be) so therefore, I must be on God's side. At least I'll make sure that He is on MINE."

The problem is the appropriation of religion to justify politics, that is, how to get that portion of "bread." Or as some have put it on that blog I linked yesterday, many people seem to contort their religious beliefs to justify their politics - not unlike the way the Southern Gentlemen in Lincoln's day proof-texted the Bible to justify their ownership of other human beings in slavery. I just don't think it's right to claim God is on your side which allows you to claim power, authority and dominion over those who may not see things the same way. In other words, "we have learned by sad experience . . . ."

I think it can be simply explained by going back to Lincoln. After a horrific civil war fought over the principle of human bondage and whether we could respect the Constitutional Union of a government established of, by, and for the people, that is all the people whether they came from south of the border or their fathers came from Kenya, Lincoln said this:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in . . . .

I think we have a lot of work to finish.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!